Monday, August 1, 2016

The D&D Syndicated Radio Show Pilot

In the early 1980s, at the height of the Dungeons & Dragons fad, TSR heavily promoted the game in mainstream media. This went far beyond mere advertisements: they developed dramatic renditions of D&D as media properties. The most famous result was the Saturday morning cartoon show, though we know of many other projects that never quite made it into production, such as the undeveloped feature film. We must now add to that category a new entry: a syndicated radio program. Unlike the cartoon show or the movie, the planned radio series depicted the actual play of a D&D session rather than dramatizing a loosely-related story: in that respect, it is a long-lost ancestor of contemporary media sensations like Critical Role or Acquisitions Inc. Today, as a special "audio" edition of Playing at the World, we take a listen to the original pilot for the radio show, and consider its relevance to the game spectatorship culture of today.

Listen on YouTube or on SoundCloud.

[UPDATE: Hear the full version on the Wizards of the Coast Podcast]


  1. Neat, but honestly, if I would have heard that on the radio, I would have switched channels.

  2. This is really great. Another example of the company being ahead of its time. Thank goodness the internet came along and made things like this possible

  3. That's fascinating -- I'd love to hear the whole thing!

    It may be possible to do a better transfer of the cassette. It sounds from the clips you used like the tape itself is in reasonable condition but the pressure pad isn't holding it against the head properly, and/or the reels are binding in the shell -- not unusual in old or maltreated cassettes. You would probably get better results by transferring the reels of tape into a new cassette shell (or using a fancy tape deck with a pad lifter, but they're uncommon).

  4. Cool! You need to make more post on your blog.

  5. Very fun stuff! It was actually less cringe-worthy than I initially assumed. Seemed to be well-produced and I definitely think people could get introduced to D&D through something like this. The early 80s was a very heady and experimental time for TSR and I know there's more stuff still waiting to be discovered.

  6. Well now I want to hear their continuing adventures! Too bad we probably can't corral these people for more episodes.

  7. I've listened to this three times now. And I must say, it's really good! It scratches a certain itch in me.
    Like most adult today, finding time to play D&D and players to play with are are hard to find. But with this one, you feel like you're part of a D&D session (albeit, no participation other than to observe). It's fun imagining the adventure as you listen to it. Plus the voice characters are superb! The atmosphere is light and a bit funny which suits the overall "radio" structure.
    If I were to suggest something, maybe add a few more dice rolls.
    Hopefully someone revives this project!

  8. I had a search through the link, but believe it .

  9. Jon, could you please upload a complete scan of all the 57 pages of the Beyond This Point Be Dragons manuscript? I'm an OD&D fan & player & am inching to try this pre version something fierce! Thanks

    1. My email is if ya wanna message me.